Woke to find that it's a cold overcast day with a brisk Westerly wind and that Iím 47 years old. There is a threat (according to the Weather Channel, on in the Lodge) of rain or sleet later in the morning. I decide to push South West towards Dealís Gap. Itís 340 miles, and I donít intend to complete the trip today. I resolve to start eating more sensibly, a resolution that lasts long enough for me to see the breakfast buffet. I suppose the diet starts tomorrow
I pack the bike and set off, along the (very cold) Blue Ridge Parkway to begin with, then via Interstate 81, towards Bristol, Tennessee, which seems like a reasonable target for the day.
I want to stop early so that I can telephone my folks at a reasonable hour. Iíve found a new Ďphone card from a firm called ĎRadiantí which gives me 720 minutes call time to the UK for $10 Ė itís cheaper than phoning long distance within the UK!:P
I81 is a two lane dual carriageway (called a Divided Highway over here). If you have
to travel by this type of road, I81 is one of the nicer ones. It winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains and the views are quite pleasant. Itís cold though, and after an hour or so, I decide itís time to pull off the road and find somewhere to warm up. I end up at a Petrol (Gas
) Station in the small town of Radford.
Whilst drinking my giant cup of coffee, I get talking to one of the locals, Rodney. Rodís unemployed (job got sent to Mexico) and has a son in the army in Iraq. His sonís been there a year and heís expecting him back in a further 8 months. We talk for a while about my trip and about where Iím going next. I go to the bog (Rest Room) and when I return, I find Rodís paid for my coffee. I protest, but he wonít hear of it. We walk out to my bike and he asks all the usual questions. As I get ready to put my helmet on and leave, to my mild embarrassment, Rod drops his head and utters a short prayer for my safety on my continuing journey. I thank him, we shake hands and I ride off.
As I continue to ride down I81, I think about why I was embarrassed by Rodís prayer. It was obviously something he felt was the right thing to do. I decide that, if thereís a problem here, itís probably mineÖ
I get into Bristol at about 1430 and check into a Days Inn, which has a King Size bed, huge TV with HBO, Internet connection etc etc Ė Iím back in the USA again